I’ve Got Rhythm . . .

QandA logoI have a student struggling with his shooting rhythm. He will be shooting fine and then his rhythm will slow, sometimes substantially and his arrow scores drop with his rhythm. In working through the problem I mentioned that I have portable metronomes (even one that raps around one ear) and he replied that he had an app on his phone he uses (Kids these days!). He went on to suggest “Maybe using a breathing cycle focus as another way to get back in rhythm?”

This whole topic might be of interest to you coaches (shooting rhythm is a keystone of shooting and scoring consistency) and you may have some good advice for me (Please!) so do not hesitate to “comment” if you have something to contribute.

Here is my response:

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My inclination is that breathing may be too slow and also possibly too variable. Consider that in a rock ’n’ roll band it is the drummer’s job to carry the beat. They may not be totally accurate in doing that but they are usually very consistent (our goal) and I believe they use the music itself (and experience through repetition . . . and structures created in the process of drumming) to find the beat for each song. I am pretty sure they are quite focused on the rhythm most of the time. So, if you can find your rhythm (and I think we established a reasonable zone for it with the stopwatch but we can do that again) and if there is a piece of music that has that rhythm, then when your rhythm seems to falter a little, “hearing” that song in your mind’s ear should be able to get you back on. I really like drum music, so I tend to favor music with strong drum lines (but then I go back to Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and awesome big band music).

musical-notes-symbols-clip-art-sign-black-music-note-outline-symbol-sketch---public-domainMost people think of drummers/musicians tapping out a rhythm with their feet which is obviously not an option for archers but a number of drummers establish a rhythm with … wait for it … their teeth. By clicking their teeth together, they can establish a learned rhythm that they can hear through bone conduction that no one else could. This is a possible option, not to be used continuously but when help with one’s rhythm is needed.

If your breathing rate is stable no matter how perturbed you get (mine is not) then using a metronome set to some reasonable multiple of that rate should be a way to practice. You can also just turn on the metronome and adjust its rate until you find something that matches your shooting rhythm (it will seem to “fit” or not, you can trust your sense of rhythm). Then some mental routine could be used to get you back in rhythm when you get off (if you’ve played a musical instrument, counting 4/4 time or some such might do it, e.g. counting 4/4 with 1/16th notes is usually done: one ee and duh, two ee and duh, three ee and duh, etc.; with only eighth notes it is one and two and three and four and one … basically find something that “clicks” for you. Music is universal and most people have a great many songs in their heads and on game day you can set your portable music player to loop your tempo song to reinforce it’s rhythm.

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Please comment if you have something to contribute! Steve


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

4 responses to “I’ve Got Rhythm . . .

  1. Dave Beeton

    I have the same problem with a lot of the kids that shoot in my school based club, they sometimes see the act of shooting as something to do as fast as possible. Too much time spent with the Playstation, perhaps? Whatever, I get them to try and establish a breathing routine to slow them down, I get them to “count” with their breathing, counting to three as they breath in, “four”, then out to seven and pause on eight. They raise and draw over the first four, release when steady and then come down over the last three counts. Once they settle down, their shooting starts to become more consistent because they are not tending to race through the actions, or snatch the release. It doesn’t work with all of them, but a significant number have said that they feel more settled and calm. An added benefit is that, because they are consciously breathing in on the raise, they automatically straighten their backs, and so their posture improves!


  2. George Zimmerman

    I don’t think that I could use my breathing as a source of rhythm as it is to slow. I have been trying though and what I have noticed that everything is going fine until I reach full draw. If I don’t manage to aquire the target and release during a breath exhale I have to hold the draw until the next breathing cycle. It seems to take forever to complete, I shoot recurve. On the flip side I am just starting to focus on this aspect as my shot sequence.


    • What you are talking about has been refereed to as a “breathing pattern,” and if you break away from what is normal for you, your rhythm is guaranteed to be messed up, so you should let down when it happens. Weight lifters breath out when they lift for various reasons (hernias, blood pressure, etc.) but the “weight” of the draw is not of the gut busting level, so breathe out, some in. A very common recurve pattern is to breathe in while drawing anchoring and breathe out slightly and hold through release and then continue. There some studies that indicate one is steadier after an inhale and a partial release than at any other condition. What ever one’s shooting rhythm is, it needs to support a consistent breathing pattern.


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